It Begins with a Scandal

We know that the history of the German Lutheran immigration to this area did not just include tragedy, but also scandal. The story of Rev. Martin Stephan’s indiscretions is not one that we enjoy telling, but it happened, and it has to be told. We also know that the German Lutheran immigrants were able to eventually move beyond the early scandal to participate in the formation of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod which is now carrying out its mission of proclaiming Christ throughout the world. The Bible is also full of stories that began with sinful behavior, yet God was able to use such circumstances to carry out His plan. Just look at the story of Joseph and how his brothers sold him into slavery, only to have it turn out that Joseph would save his brothers from disaster later. You will read a story today today that begins with a scandal, yet results in plenty of descendants who seemed to be actively involved in their church over the years.

A girl’s birthday will lead us to provide more details to a story that was written just a matter of days ago, The Other Theodore Engert. The Theodore Engert in that post was an illegitimate child, and it was said that the father of Theodore was likely Peter Stueve. As I researched today’s birthday girl, I discovered even more scandal that goes along with this tale.

Amalie Friedericke Engert was born on August 16, 1864, the daughter of August and Anna (Jungclaus) Engert. That makes Friedericke the sister of Theodore’s mother, Anna Sophia Engert. Her father was also the prolific father who sired 23 children with two different wives. Anna Jungclaus was his second wife. Friedericke was baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg. Below is her baptism record.

Friedericke Engert baptism record – Immanuel, Altenburg, MO

We find Friedericke in the 1870 census. This large Engert household spilled over two census pages. She is mistakenly shown as a 6 year-old male named Frederick in this entry.

1870 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Next, we find Friedericke in the 1880 census as a teenager. Anna Sophia Engert, Theodore’s mother, is seen here as a 25 year-old. The father, August, had died in 1877, so he is no longer the head of this family.

1880 census – Brazeau Township, MO

That leads us to the scandalous events that took place in 1882, but before I proceed with that, let me say a few things about Friedericke”s future husband, Peter Stueve. First of all, one has to be very careful when researching Peter Stueve because he is not the only Peter Stueve to be found in our German Family Tree. Another Peter Stueve married Margaret Crum and lived in the Farrar area. Today’s Peter Stueve is a different one who didn’t arrive in America until 1880 according to a later 1930 census. This Peter Stueve was born on August 24, 1855, the son of Johann Claus and Rebekah (Meinz) Stueve. Peter does not show up in a census record until after he was married.

Peter Stueve married Friedericke Engert on June 6, 1882. That couple’s first child, Ida Stueve, was born on November 25, 1882. Theodore Engert was born on August 9th of that year. If you do the math, Theodore was born 2 months after Peter’s marriage, and Ida was born about 6 months afterwards. If Peter was indeed the father of both of these children, and the evidence seems to point in his direction, then Peter had sired two children before he was married. Is it possible that he even had to make the decision about which one of the pregnant Engert sisters he should marry? This situation also got me wondering whether any Lutheran pastor around here would marry a man in this predicament. I got my answer when I looked at the marriage license for Peter and Friedericke. That wedding was performed by Judge Charles Weber, not a pastor.

Stueve/Engert marriage license

According to our German Family Tree, there were 10 children born to this couple. Several of them died early, including their firstborn, Ida. The first 7 children were baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg. The baptism record of the 7th child, born in 1896, mentions that Peter was from Jackson County, Illinois, and then their 8th child, born in 1898, was baptized at Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob, Illinois. So, this Stueve family must have moved across the Mississippi River to Jackson County in Illinois at about this time. The 1900 census shows them living in the Degognia Township where Peter was a farmer. Friedericke was called Mary for some reason on this entry. I do know that a middle initial of M. appears on her tombstone.

1900 census – Degognia Township, IL

Friedericke Stueve died in 1904 at the age of 40. I do not know the cause.

The 1910 census for the Stueve household is displayed below. Peter was raising 6 children as a widower. A servant by the name of Esther Jungclaus (I think) was living with them. I’m sure that Peter could use the help.

1910 census – Degognia Township, IL

Next, we can take a look at the 1920 census for Peter and his remaining family. He was always listed as a farmer.

1920 census – Degognia Township, IL

The last census in which we find Peter was the one taken in 1930. His daughter, Mary, had gotten married to Arthur Versemann, and that family was living with Peter.

1930 census – Degognia Township, MO

Peter Stueve died in 1935 at the age of 79. The death record for Peter found in the books of Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob shows the following information. Look at all the family members that survived Peter after his death.

[JacobIL]: Peter Stueve, Born 24 Aug 1855 in Angelohe Hanover Germany, Died 22 Apr 1935, Buried 25 Apr 1935, 79y7m28d old, survived by 7 children, 3 brothers, 26 grandchildren & 2 gr-grandchildren

Peter and Friedericke Stueve were each buried in the Christ Lutheran Cemetery in Jacob, Illinois.

This story had such an unpromising beginning, but in the end, resulted in a rather large collection of descendants giving this family a promising future.

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